So as part of my continuing series of blog posts on the products in The Sustainable Life Shop today I will be talking about the bamboo toothbrushes I have for sale in the store. The toothbrushes I have for sale consist of two parts: the bamboo handle and the nylon bristles. The handle portion is made of 100% bamboo which is a fast-growing member of the grass family, not wood as many people assume.
Bamboo is a widely growing plant that can be found across the world growing in tropical regions and some temperate mountain zones. It is a widely used material and can be found commonly in,
It is also one of the fastest growing land plants in the world and some species have been documented to grow as fast as 1 foot per day. When managed properly bamboo forests are a very sustainable source of raw materials to be used in many aspects of modern life.
Now it's time to talk about the bamboo toothbrushes that I have for sale in The Sustainable Life Shop.
What I like about them
The thing I like the most about these brushes of course is that they are mostly constructed of a 100% renewable and compostable material like bamboo. Typically toothbrushes these days are made entirely of plastic that can only be thrown away when the head wears out. These brushes give you the options to separate the head from the handle and compost what you can.
I also like how it feels in my hand when I am using the brush. The handle is actually on the small side being both thin and narrow but even with my large hands it is comfortable to hold and to use when I am brushing my teeth. The head is also fairly small consisting almost entirely of bristles for its bulk. It fits easily in the tight spots when I am brushing and doesn’t jab me in the gums or the back of the mouth.
What I don’t like about them
There are two things that slightly detract from these brushes. One being the fact that the bristles are made of nylon which is a non compostable synthetic fiber. You can find toothbrushes that have either natural hair bristles or bristles made from natural oils like these but they are usually fairly expensive per brush. I hope to one day be offering a 100% compostable toothbrush but sourcing them can be a challenge.
The second is the feel of the handle on the lips as you brush. To someone that has used plastic toothbrushes their entire life the bamboo can feel rough when it gets wet from the brushing. This is true of all wood or wood like products and it's not a bad thing it's just a weird feeling in the mouth.
Overall I have to say these toothbrushes will do their job and they do it well for being relatively cheap manual toothbrushes. While I don’t like the fact they have nylon bristles they do contain far less plastic than other toothbrushes and produce very little waste at the end of their useful lives.
If you would like to try them out here is the link
Other all natural toothbrushes
So if you haven’t guessed by now this particular blog post is about wool more specifically the wool dryer balls I have for sale in my store.
So just in case, you didn’t already know most wool comes from these guys
Photo by Sabrina Wishak from Burst
Cute little things aren’t they at least from a distance where you don’t have to smell them. Sheep have been with us for a long time and at first, we didn’t even use them for their wool. Archaeological findings tell us that they were originally kept for their meat, milks, and skins with the wool still attached I’m sure.
However, in the relative blink of an eye, just a couple thousand years or so humans did start to breed them solely for their wool. We had discovered that wool just by itself was an incredibly useful material especially as humans began to inhabit colder and colder climates. The uses of wool are far-reaching even in modern society some examples of wool today would include,
Which of course brings us the main attraction of today’s post which is the wool dryer balls we sell at The Sustainable Life Shop. Now if you must use a dryer to dry your clothes or you just want some softness beat back into your towels then you need some wool dryer balls.
These little wool balls help out in several ways in making sure your clothes, towels and sheets come out of the dryer better than they went in.
There is nothing quite like physical action to literally beat the stiffness out of jeans, towels, and other commonly stiff clothing items. Unlike dryer sheets which use chemicals to soften your clothes the 100% wool fragrance-free balls do it by pummeling your clothes into submission as they go around the dryer drum. They can do this again and again without having to be replaced, unlike those single use dryer sheets.
Another thing that these little wonders are good for is separating your clothes out so they dry faster. You have probably noticed that some things like to twist themselves into knots in the dryer leaving you with damp spots and some serious untangling to do. Dryer balls can mitigate this somewhat by creating space. Since your clothes are drying sooner you are also using less electricity/propane which is a win for your clothes the environment and for your wallet.
While not necessarily a feature that helps your clothes it does soothe my conscious to know that at the end of their useful life I can just chuck them into my compost bin and add them to the garden.
What I don’t like about wool dryer balls.
There is really only one thing I don’t like about these fellas and that is they sometimes get caught up in sheets or other large bits of laundry and they come with when you empty the dryer. This is followed quite often by them flying out at some inopportune time and try to make their escape.
While this feature is annoying to me it is beloved by the family cat who thinks chasing them down and playing with them is the best thing ever. So at least the cat continues to find amusement in my suffering.
I like them,
The cat likes them,
And they are renewable product that is 100% compostable at the end of its life what’s not to like.
If you agree head on over to the product page and check them out.
Ok so the title is a bit misleading on two fronts...
I picked up all that over the course of two walks I went on with the child seeking some outside time for myself and the dog as well. I would also like to emphasize that I didn’t even go out of my way to pick all that up, it was either on the sidewalk or right next to it as I walked.
I tell you this so I can make a confession I don’t normally pick up trash and recycling I find on my walks.
I know shocking right….
How can someone who built and writes on a website called the Green Living Library not make it a habit of picking up loose trash wherever they see it? Since I am being entirely honest, there are two reasons why this is not a habit for me.
Legal vs Moral
From a legal perspective, unless that trash ends up in the immediate vicinity of my house it’s not my problem. It has to be on my property before I legally have to give a crap about it. This seems to be true of most cities, if it’s not in the street it’s the problem of the property owner. So while I am not legally obligated to pick up trash from the sidewalk in front of other people’s homes I am starting to come around to the fact that maybe I am morally obligated to pick it up. I share that sidewalk, that street, the neighborhood, even the whole town with other people and it seems to me that I have a responsibility towards that community to help take care of the environment it exists in.
Public Responsibility vs Private Responsibility
The question I am beginning to wrestle with more and more as I grow older is where does public responsibility end and where does private responsibility end? At what point is it my problem and what point it is the public’s problem? Up until recently for the most part I considered everything that was past my property line and didn’t affect my life as not my problem.
Now on the face of it, things like I have listed above, are someone else’s problem. But if everyone takes the it’s someone else’s problem approach to life then a lot of things that need doing don’t get done. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to my question about where public and private responsibility end is that,
They don’t end…. they are one and the same.
There is no private responsibility or public responsibility you don’t get to pick and choose where you are responsible for something and where you are not. If you are a living breathing person then like the rest of us are responsible for every second of your life and every action taken or not taken during that life.
So yes maybe someone else is why there is a broken beer bottle on the sidewalk going to a school but if you walk by it without cleaning it up then you are just as responsible for that beer bottle.
I know it kinda sucks right…..
If you look at the world through the framework of universal responsibility where if you have the power to make it better then you are responsible for making it better then suddenly you have a lot more problems.
But that’s ok because along with those problems you also get the power to solve them. Now, this doesn’t mean I expect you to run out and solve world hunger and fight crime, some things are better left to those better suited to solve them. But the next time you see some trash that needs picking up or an elderly neighbors sidewalk that needs shoveling maybe you make that problem yours and in a small way make the world a better place.
Whether we want to admit it or not we are all responsible in some small way for how the world is now and that means we are also responsible for how the world will look in the future. I hope for the sake of my child that by the time they are my age they are living in a much cleaner, greener, sustainable world that they won’t fear bringing a kid into like I do.
I don’t know what the future holds but I know that one thing I can do is teach my kid to pick up garbage, recycle whatever they can, and live the cleanest, greenest, and most sustainable life that they can.
Here is a cross post from my new online store...
So here it is the very first post about my new venture…
The Sustainable Life Shop
A store with one goal to provide a place where you can find products that make it easier to live a more sustainable, eco-conscious, greener life. It is a place that accepts the fact that we live in the real world and in the real world you need things to be able to live your life. What The Sustainable Life Shop does not accept is that those things need to be disposable or designed to have a short lifespan.
To that end, I here at The Sustainable Life Shop have created a curated list of products that I use in my life to make my existence more sustainable and more eco friendly. As I get time each product will have an associated post here in the blog section featuring what I think of the product, how I use it, and what disposable products it replaces in my life My goal is not to provide a sugar-coated message about how each product is great but to go into it features both good and bad and let you decide if you want it or not.
In order to be sold in The Sustainable Life Shop, an item must meet two of my three standards for an eco-friendly product,
So here we are again it's the holiday season here in the USA and for a lot of the world. You start it off with the gluttonous feast of Thanksgiving, hit the peak of consumerism and waste for the year by Christmas and for many people the season is ended by staying up to late and getting hammered at some party to celebrate the beginning of a new year.
At least in a non Covid-19 year that is........
So as I alluded to in a previous post my family was going to be expanding a bit in August. Well it is now the end of September and that TERRIFYING/WONDERFUL thing has happened and my family has now grown by one more. I'm not going to tell you their name or post a picture of their butt in a cloth diaper so don’t worry about that. I don’t believe in putting pictures of personal things or people out there unless I have their explicit permission. Which is of course is hard to get from someone that is only a month old.
But since little one has been in cloth diapers now for a few weeks I wanted to share some early thoughts I have on the difficulty of cloth diapers versus disposable. Just so everyone is clear when I am referring to cloth diapers I am referring to a type called a pocket diaper. Where you have a separate liner and a waterproof shell with a built in pocket.
You can see what I mean in the product link below
What could be simpler right planting a tree is as simple as digging a hole and plopping it in the ground. Well as someone who is out there both professionally and personally on the front lines of tree planting, I can tell you that you are mistaken.
Planting a tree can be that simple but, in many cases, it is way more complicated than you think. Because when you are planting a tree you aren’t just sticking a tree in the ground you are adding a long-term fixture in the landscape that will have impacts and repercussions long after you are gone from the scene. I will be approaching this issue from the perspective of planting a tree in an urban or community setting. That is because planting a tree in town comes with a set of issues that are not a problem in a more rural setting so I will focus on those issues here.
So I have to make a confession or perhaps an announcement to make to the whole wide world. I am about to become a parent for the first time. Sometime during the month of August 2020, I along with my partner will be welcoming a new life into this world. Unless of course, the new addition to our family decides to be fashionably late and arrive in September.
Needless to say with everything going on this has not been my idea of a good year to have a baby. Aside from the obvious pandemic, it has been a personally tough year in other respects getting ready for the new baby and all the changes it will be bringing into my life.
The biggest concern I have had on my mind is can I raise a child without compromising my green living values. Children can be inherently wasteful mostly in ways outside their control or even comprehension. It really falls on the parents to make the decision that is best for their child and in my case the values I live by.
But when you look out into society and the products and expectations that come with raising a child it is clear that disposable diapers, cleaning products, fast fashion, and cheap throwaway toys rule when it comes to raising children. I have received so much pushback on our plans to use cloth diapers, washable wipes, and to put our kid in all used clothing. It has mainly taken the form of knowing looks and the phrases,
“That’s gross why would want to clean dirty diapers”
“Ohh that's too hard you won’t keep up with it”
After many years of waiting and bad crops with my currant bushes I managed to get enough off of them to bother making something from them. I plant these bushes 4 years ago and in every year since I have been fighting the birds, the weather and just bad timing trying to get more than a handful of currants.
This year I finally did it. I actually have to thank the fact that I am working from home for this. It has really allowed me to monitor my various fruiting shrubs much better than I have in years past. Let me tell I am just a bit surprised by this since the weather this year has been atrocious for my garden. For most of the spring it hovered at or below 32 degrees and it rain/sleeted. Then flipping a complete 180 it jumped up to 90+ degrees for weeks on end with no rain which has turned portions of my garden to something like concrete.
and the hail don't even get me started on the hail.
But I and my garden persevered and push through all the bad weather to finally produce something I can enjoy eating.
As I right this the the currants and the sugar is cooking together on the stove top and I really hope it turns out. Being able to produce my own food is part of how I am trying to live a greener life. The more I can grow at my house the less I have to buy which is better for the environment as well as being better for my wallet.
For this particular foray in jam making I am using a simple recipe I found at the The Spruce Eats.
What I liked about this recipe is that it also gives the amounts in grams and ml which makes it much easier to adjust to the amount of currants I have,
and here at the Green Living Library stuff that is simple to use and change is gold to us.
That's all for now
There is a disturbing trend out there in the world right now that that needs to be addressed.
The return of disposable plastics
If you look back over the last decade you can see a growing momentum of city, counties, and whole nations trying to limit the use of disposable plastic bags, straws cups, and other single use items. While the effectiveness of these bans can perhaps be questioned on how much plastic they save or trash they prevent. The important bit is what the plastic bans represent in the sentiments and ideas taking hold out in the world.
We as a global society were finally starting to see past the short-term gain and look at the long term picture. But then something happened, something that took our gaze from the future and yanked us roughly right back to the present.
I am of course talking about Covid-19.
The pandemic has taken us from the path of reusable bags and bring your own coffee mugs right back to single use plastic. The line we hear from everywhere it seems is that single use plastic is more sanitary and safer to use. But where is the data that backs up that theory?
It’s not there in fact the data that has been gathered about how long the virus sticks around on various materials has shown that it can live longer on plastics, stainless steel, and other hard impervious materials and it has a much shorter half-life in things like cardboard most likely fabrics.
So where is this assumption that plastic is safer and more sanitary coming from?
Fear and Propaganda.
We are all afraid of this thing and what it could do to us and our families and fear can make us lose all reason and drive irrational thinking and poor long-term choices. It is perfectly understandable that people are afraid, hell I am more than a little paranoid myself about a few things. But the fear that using items more than once makes them unclean and unsafe is simply not true. Items can be cleaned, they can be sanitized and they are as clean if not cleaner than you. So if you believe you are doing a good job with keeping yourself safe than your cloth bags and coffee tumblers are no more dangerous than you.
The propaganda is coming from an industry that was under attack from falling demand changing times as people around the world demanded products that were better for them and the planet we live on. They are trotting out the same message they have for the last half century that life is always better with plastic. In many ways they are right, the modern age would not be possible without plastic and the many advances it enabled us to make.
But plastic in its many forms is also a major polluter both during its manufacture and after it has been used. For a long time, we were willing to accept that pollution for all the benefits it gave us but lately, we have begun to wake up to the problems.
So fear and propaganda aside let's look at the idea that single use plastic bags are safer than cloth bags for use in the grocery store. First of all, people are under the mistaken impression that grocery store plastic bags are sterile and clean.
Think about that for a second….
They are manufactured in a factory, packed and shipped all over the place, and then finally unboxed and handled by many people and placed in a rack at the checkout. They then sit there and get exposed to the grocery store environment with all its people and their hands and breathing until they are finally used up.
If that sounds clean and sterile to you need to look in a dictionary.
Sterile- free from living organisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms
If you compare that to cloth reusable bags the chain of people touching them and how long they are in the grocery store is much less intimidating. Assuming you bag your own food no one but you touched your bag which cuts down on contact transmission. If you bring your own bags you also limit the time they are exposed to the environment in the store which again reduces contact time. Finally, unlike plastic bags your cloth bag can be washed, bleach or otherwise sanitized to your heart's content.
Try doing that with a plastic bag at the store....
The same principle can apply to any situation we were once again being coerced into using disposable plastic. When you really think about it is much safer for you to use stuff that is only exposed to you and your immediate environment, not something anyone can use at the store.
Thinking about the Future
I know the times are scary and stressful but we cannot let the immediate crisis take our eye off the ball that is global climate change. What can happen if we don’t start making drastic changes to the way humanity operates will make the pandemic look like a pothole on a road heading for a cliff. You shouldn't ignore the pothole but don't let it distract you from that pesky cliff coming up real fast.
So the moral of this story is don’t let fear control your actions, question all the propaganda you hear about how single use is better and use your brain to make good decisions
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.